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Missouri Marijuana Workers Hit Resistance in Their Efforts to Unionize the Cannabis Industry
Missouri Ag Connection - 12/07/2023

While dispensary workers see progress — with stores voting to unionize in Kansas City and St. Louis — marijuana manufacturing employees say they are stuck in a "gray area," unable to unionize because they may be considered agriculture workers.

The first day was a breeze.

Sean Shannon and Danny Foster walked into several marijuana dispensaries around Missouri with their matching “Union For Cannabis Workers” shirts and talked to employees about the possibility of unionizing.

“The first day, there were 57 stops amongst the teams,” said Shannon, lead organizer with UFCW Local 655, which actually stands for United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “Reception was out-of-this-world positive. Workers were so excited.”

Shannon had gathered together a dozen organizers to help Local 655 visit every one of the approximate 100 dispensaries on the eastern half of Missouri — twice.

Stirring up the excitement was the union’s big win of the recent settlement, where 10 Shangri-La South dispensary workers in Columbia received a collective $145,000 after being fired following a March union organizing drive.

“They were excited to hear that Shangri La [employees] actually won,” he said. “They couldn’t believe people were getting their jobs back. They couldn’t believe the amount of money.”

But by the third day, the reception got much colder, he said. Managers had warned their counterparts at other locations that union reps might be visiting.

“Employees were basically told, ‘If you talk to the union, if you take a card, if you take a sticker, you’re out,’” he said.

Still, since the tour, union activity has “blown up,” Shannon said.

An active campaign means the employees have signed agreements, or authorization cards, with the union authorizing Local 655 to represent them. It also means union leaders believe workers have a good shot at succeeding


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